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I am excited to announce that I have completed the Advanced Communicator Bronze education award through Toastmasters International. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Toastmasters, what this means is that I have completed a total of ten advanced speeches—five from each of two advanced speaking manuals—beyond the introductory ten speeches in the Competent Communicator manual. 

The next step in my Toastmasters self-improvement journey is the Advanced Communicator Silver designation, which I have already begun. 

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I did it!!!

Back in December, I had set an informal “goal” of completing my Competent Communicator manual of ten speeches completed by June 30th of this year. Earlier this year, I wondered if I would be able to make it happen given our club’s size and getting a speaking opportunity about once every two months. But thanks to a couple of fill-in speeches I’ve been able to present this spring, I was able to give my tenth and final speech of the manual this morning.

I chose to give my inspirational speech to encourage members to hold me accountable to three goals I have for the remainder of the year and to encourage them to set their own goals for the remainder of 2014.

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To those who know me, it is no surprise I love print communication. I have enjoyed writing as far back as I can recall. In high school, I became involved in my school’s journalism program. In college, I majored in photojournalism and worked for the campus newspaper. After graduation, I worked for newspapers and—for the past 15 years—a major publishing firm.

Every time I have moved, a good portion of my possessions have included numerous boxes of books. Photography books. Fiction books. Business books. Coffee table books. Computer reference books. Children’s books. (Get the picture???)

I have always loved the library and have appreciated the power of the printed word to express emotion, thoughts, and creativity. So it was an easy decision for me to focus on it for my ninth speech in the path to Competent Communicator status, Persuade with Power.

In this era of electronic reading devices, it pains me to watch my three children long for their precious Amazon Kindles when their room contains a bookcase full of books to read. So I hoped to persuade my fellow Toastmasters to read more and to encourage their children and grandchildren to read more.

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This morning’s step on my path to achieving Toastmasters’ Competent Communicator status was speech number eight: Get Comfortable with Visual Aids.

For this speech, I struggled to think about what subject I could present where I could utilize visual aids in my presentation. I first thought of a similar setup I use for the Post-Processing Focus Group I lead for the Indy Meetup Photo Club. But the room where Northeast 2000 meets is too small to bring in a video projector and use the laptop. So I stole an idea from a fellow toastmaster, Bryan, and chose to go the flipchart route.

In all fairness, the material I presented in this speech was developed by Dave Ramsey in his program of the same title.

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Speech number five in the Toastmasters’ Competent Communicator manual is focusing on “Your Body Speaks.” This speech is geared toward the use of appropriate body language to supplement the spoken part of the presentation.

For this presentation, I chose to speak of some of my experiences as a photojournalist.

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Speech number four in the Toastmasters’ Competent Communicator manual is focusing on “How to Say It.” This speech is geared toward the speaker concentrating on word choice, sentence structure, and rhetorical devices.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how well I was going to do with my speech, “A Fight for Life.” The foundation of my presentation was the life and death struggle my youngest child, Noah, faced at his birth. Needless to say, this was an emotional one for me as I recalled the uncertainty and stress I experienced at that time in his life.

Toastmasters International color logoMy first non-manual speech. In all honesty, I put this speech together at the last minute as there was a speaking opportunity which presented itself at the start of the meeting. Thankfully I was able to get the second speaker position, so I had 5-7 minutes to put this one together before heading up to the lectern.

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Well, after the warm reception to my first speech, The Dreaded Speech, I took to the lectern once again for the second speech in the Toastmasters International manual, The Competent Communicator. This time, I spoke about my move from Indianapolis’ south side to the north side after making that long commute for 15 years.

So I am a bit less hesitant—and a little bit proud—to present The Big Move audio recording to you.


So, for the category ratings in the manual, I received the following scores:

  • Speech Value—5 out of 5
  • Preparation—4 out of 5
  • Organization—5 out of 5
  • Opening—4 out of 5
  • Body—5 out of 5
  • Conclusion—4 out of 5
  • Transitions—5 out of 5

Toastmasters International color logoI bit the bullet today.

Recently, I joined Toastmasters International; specifically Northeast 2000. And today began my journey toward Competent Communicator status as I completed the first of ten manual speeches: The Icebreaker. I titled my speech “The Dreaded Speech” because I am uncomfortable talking about myself in front of a group of people. Especially a group of people who I really don’t know very well (yet).

So in the spirit of openness—and to help other people who may suffer from a fear of public speaking—I am going to start putting myself out there and sharing recordings of my speeches. So, without further ado, here is a link to the audio file.